Climate Change Threatens Our Big Cat Mascots

Photo donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Kameron Peresnovich.

National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Kameron Peresnovich donated this photo of a mountain lion.

From intimidating bears to fierce gators, mascots across the country are the face of any college athletic program.  It is hard to not feel a surge of school spirit when you see your beloved mascot take the field.  But mascots across the U.S. are facing some steep competition going up against climate change.  Many of our big cat mascots such as, tigers, lions, lynxes, and panthers, could be eliminated as climate change makes is increasingly more difficult for them to survive.


Photo donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Angad Achappa.

Photo donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Angad Achappa.

Tigers are impressively fierce and it’s no surprise that schools like Auburn, Louisiana State University and Clemson boast this cool cat as their mascot.  Even President Obama’s attended Occidental University, who has Oswald the Tiger as their mascot.  Tigers are the biggest cat in the world but they are not immune to climate change.  In Bangladesh, rising sea levels are threatening the coastal mangrove needed to sustain tiger populations.  High sea levels are washing away tiger habitat and threatening their survival.


Loyola Marymount and Columbia University, another college attended by President Obama, share the kings of the beasts as their mascot.  Lions are an iconic and beautiful species but they are now facing sickness brought on by climate change.  Lions of the Serengeti lost a third of their population in seven years (1994 to 2001) when extreme drought followed by heavy seasonal rains caused widespread disease and death. As climate change worsens, more events like this could endanger lion populations.


Photo donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant William Brose.

Photo donated by National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant William Brose.

North America is home to wildcats like the Canada lynx, the ocelot, and the Florida panther and represented at schools such as the University of Arizona and Villanova University. Lack of snow cover, rising sea level, and drought are all affecting these wildcat species and impacting them in a negative way.  As a Villanova alum myself, I know that no Nova basketball game would be the complete without our favorite Will D. Cat in the stands!

But it’s not just wildcats that are in foul territory.  Check out NWF’s new report “Mascot Madness: How Climate change is Hurting School Spirit” to see if your favorite mascot is in trouble!

Take Action ButtonWe can help to curb the impacts of climate change by regulating carbon emissions from power plants. Speak up in support of the Environmental Protection Agency and their efforts to curb carbon emissions!

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